Has God Been Messing with You?
Over the last couple of years God has been messing with me. Do you know what I am talking about? God doesn't hit you over the head with a neon sign but, He keeps presenting a message to you in different forms.
He keeps sending me little hints that tell me I have to love everyone. I get the message in the books I read, in the devotionals I study, even in the people I spend time with. I keep thinking, "Alright God, I get it, I need to love everyone." But then God lets me know I don't really get it. God says, "No Margaret, I mean EVERYONE!" The messages in the books I read and the social media posts implore us to love those that look different than ourselves and those that have been raised in a different setting. That I understand. God tells me, "Yeah, I want that, but I also want you to love those that live close by and look similar to you." But I think, "Lord that should be easy to love someone who is just like me." But just because someone looks like me doesn't mean that they are going to act and think like me. Those people are a little more challenging for me to love.
But then God says, "That's not all...I want you to love those that have hurt you and your family." Well, I might be able to forgive those that have hurt me but my kids too? But God says, "Yes, them too, but that's not enough...you need to love them." Well now that's an entirely different story. I have finally agreed to TRY and do this but God is still not done.
God tells me, "Don't forget about those folks that don't believe in Me." Surely, God doesn't mean that I am to love people that attack the name of God and His believers. I keep thinking I must defend the name of the Lord and stand up for all that He has taught us believers. I must fight for what it states in the Bible. But then God reminded me that He can defend Himself and that I don't need to tell people how to live but to show them God's love.
But God still isn't done messing with me. He now is telling me, "Stop your judgmental thoughts." I continue to argue with God. If I can't make a judgment call how can I instruct people on the mistakes they are making and the path they should follow. Know what God tells me? "That's not your job. All I ask of you is to love like Jesus."
Have I been successful with this challenge that God has given me? Certainly not all the time. But I have seen some shifts in the way that I think about things lately. I feel like I might be more likely to empathize with someone before I rush to judge them. I wish I could say that I do this all the time, but I can't. I am still human and I still have many flaws but the great thing is God loves me and is willing to work with me. He still gives me little friendly reminders when I read a Facebook post and I want to hurl back some hasty comment that I later realize will only serve to hurt someone's feelings. I still get impatient while waiting in line or in traffic and wonder why people just can't be smarter. Then I feel guilty when I think about the turmoil that they might have just faced before they headed to the store.
I hope that as we start a new chapter in the life of our church that we can reach out to each other in love. I hope that we can reach out to our neighbors and our community in love, those that look like us and those that don't. I hope that we can react in love and empathy to EVERYONE.
Margaret Sanders, Director of RENEW Missional Living